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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Advice for freelance illustrators, common questions I'm asked.

I thought I'd post some answers to common questions I'm asked by budding illustrators starting out in the industry.  My answers are a more personal response to the queries asked by students, I hope reading them with be helpful.  I'll post more information and advice next month.

Are there any technical skills that are required to work in the industry?
Being confident in your skills and developing your craft to keep your work fresh and interesting.  Knowing how to use creative software and save to print formats are the most helpful.

What are you views on qualifications? Are they necessary or are portfolios / abilities more important?
Maybe a qualification is not necessary; I’ve yet to be asked! A good portfolio and having completed work for a few clients is more important.  The most important thing is a client needs to be able to trust you to carry out the project and get it in on time.  I’ve been at it for a while now and have always turned in great work on time, never let your client down or you will never regain that trust.

How important is it to make contacts / network?
Very important, having a repeat customer is a good way of generating more work by word of mouth and exposure.  Getting a good reputation is very helpful I often get clients who have had a bad experience with an illustrator.

What are the pros and cons of having an agent? (If applicable)
Pros can get you work and throw their resources behind you to get exposure, help guide your career and negotiate with clients.
Cons, Can take quite a percentage.  Or retain license over your work in some bad cases.  Agents might also ask you not to do personal promotions so you have to rely solely on them to get you work.

Were there any difficulties when starting out in the industry?
Start up funds for equipment, advertising and software all are very expensive.  It can take a few years to fully establish yourself in the field and your style may vary and develop more differently than imagined in order to interest people and get work.

When adding an image to you site or sending via email. Always title your image, and add you your name so if its archived and picked up at a latter date the client knows who its from. e.g. Urban Racers Dylan Gibson Illustration
What levels of commitment are involved while working as a practitioner? What are the hours involved? How do you maintain a good work/life balance?
I work a full normal week about 35-40 hrs sometimes I'll need to work more and the odd weekend working can sometimes be necessary.  Your income might be low to start off with and even with this remember you still have to keep money over for your end of year tax return.  It’s a good idea to estimate what that might be and save it away. 
If you work from home have a dedicated space, a spare room to act as a studio, treat it as any work place when you’re done switch off the computer close the door and leave.
Working from home made easy.

Have you noticed any changes to the industry while working as a professional?
The biggest is how styles go in and out of fashion very quickly, this is most obvious in advertising and you might get a lot of commissions in that field one year and none the next.  The other big thing is the license of your artwork where and how your work is used, clients are pushing for more ownership with China and India becoming more important markets to the UK.

Are there any traits (such as enthusiasm, determination) that you think are necessary / useful while working in the creative industry?
Enthusiasm will carry you through even the more laborious projects.  It takes a lot of effort and hard work to get going but in can be done and you can make a living from it.  If you can say you enjoy your job you are very lucky and as long as you recognize that you can work through anything in order to keep that going.

I will continue to post more common questions and advice soon, please check back.
Follow me on Twitter @dylanillo
For my website folio visit Dylan Gibson illustration


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